In an age of vitamin waters and energy drinks, the decades long decline in U.S. milk consumption has accelerated, worrying dairy farmers, milk processors and grocery chains.
Per-capita U.S. milk consumption, which peaked around World War II, has fallen almost 30% since 1975, even as sales of yogurt, cheese and other dairy products have risen, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. The reasons include the rise in popularity of bottled waters and the concern of some consumers that milk is high in calories.
Another factor, according to the USDA, is that children, who tend to be heavy milk drinkers, account for a smaller share of the U.S. population than they once did.
To revive sales, milk companies and retailers are pushing smaller, more-convenient packages and health-oriented varieties, including protein-enhanced milk aimed at fitness buffs.
The dairy industry is also retooling its marketing to tout the authenticity of cow’s milk and to deride fast-growing alternatives like soy and almond milk as “imitation milk.”
The decline’s recent acceleration is due in part to increases in milk’s retail price, a result of the soaring costs for grains fed to dairy cows, according to industry officials. But the depth of this year’s slide has surprised some food-industry executives because retail milk prices have risen only slightly this year after surging 9.2% last year, according to federal data.
A new nationwide survey released found that 81 percent of Americans agree that individual farmers should have the freedom to decide how much milk they produce and not have a limit set by government policy.
The survey, which was conducted online last month among 2,094 adults by Harris Interactive on behalf of the International Dairy Foods Association, also found that 74 percent of Americans believe milk prices should be based on what consumers are willing to pay. Only nine percent think milk prices should be set by government policy.
The majority of Americans recognize the need for the government to help dairy farmers in some way. The survey found 52 percent of Americans support providing financial assistance through government-subsidized insurance — frequently referred to as margin or risk management insurance — to protect farmers against catastrophic losses. Only eight percent say farmers should be helped by government policies that would keep prices higher by limiting how much milk farmers produce. Forty percent of Americans don’t support either option.
Current proposals in the Farm Bill would require farmers to limit the milk they produce in exchange for access to margin insurance. The Goodlatte-Scott Amendment, a proposal that would provide insurance coverage while not restricting farmers’ ability to decide how much milk they would produce, is expected to be considered when the House of Representatives takes up the Farm Bill.
Who better to tell the story regarding the dairy industry, its impact on local communities and the vital role this industry plays in providing consumers with a quality product than the dairymen themselves? Consumers will have the opportunity to become a virtual part of the farm, learning about all aspects of the dairy industry in a fun, interactive way.
The website, dedicatedtodairy.com, features stories about life on the farm and show where and how dairy foods are produced with focus on economic impact, environment practices and animal husbandry. Interactive features, social media links and blogs will also be included. QR codes will also be developed so visitors can have easy access to specific sites and information.
Posted: November 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm
By News Editor
New research shows that children who drink milk regularly will be physically fitter in their elderly years.
The research, published in the Journal Age and Aging, found elderly people who consumed the highest amounts of milk and dairy foods in childhood were able to walk faster and were much less likely to suffer problems with balance.
Researchers at Bristol University studied 400 men and women aged from their mid-60s to late 80s. They had all taken part in a study which began back in the 1930s to analyze the affect of diet and lifestyle on long-term health.
As part of the study, the volunteers, who were then all young children, were tracked for their intake of milk and dairy goods.
To test if this had any impact on health in old age, the volunteers were tested for their walking speeds and their balance.
The results showed milk-lovers had five percent faster walking times than those who drank little or no milk. They were also 25 percent less likely to have potentially dangerous balance problems.
In a report on their findings the researchers said: ‘This is the first study to show positive associations of childhood milk intake with physical performance in old age.’
The findings support earlier research highlighting the health benefits of drinking milk as a youngster.
Posted: October 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm
By Jamie Johansen
Milk does the body good! But that household phrase doesn’t mean consumers are drinking as much as they used to. The demand for milk has decreased, but the dairy industry is hard at work to make that change. Thanks to partnerships with Dairy Checkoff, you might be seeing lactose free or higher protein milk on shelves. Or different flavors and packaging. Chuck chatted with Steve Maddox, Chairman of the National Dairy Board and California dairy farmer, about these very ideas at the recent World Dairy Expo.
“We have a crisis. In the last 40 years we have had a decrease in the general consumption of milk per capita and it’s excelled in the last two years. That’s distressful for the industry because for the majority of the dairymen that is the highest value in milk prices. Although on the flip side of that, for bottlers and processors, it is the narrowest margin they have. And so that leads to a lack of innovation for the bottlers. So, what we are doing at DMI is putting out $14 million of seed money and grants to innovate the industry through lactose free products, change in bottling, container design, advertising or different formulations for the demanding consumer.”
“The decrease in fluid milk sales and consumption is an industry problem and its got to be solved industry wide, not just from our promotion and checkoff dollars and in doing this grant we can get the partners.”
Milk Unleashed has launched! It’s a campaign to educate moms on the importance of dairy, and offer easy ways to incorporate more milk into their families’ diets with shelf safe milk. It’s sponsored by Tetra Pak, makers of shelf safe cartons for milk, juice, soup, broth and other products.
Shelf safe milk is Grade A fluid milk that requires no refrigeration until the package is opened, thanks to ultra pasteurization and the special Tetra Pak carton. This eco-friendly packaging preserves all the wholesome goodness of milk and helps kids get the vitamins and nutrients of milk anytime, anywhere.
Posted: September 17, 2012 at 8:51 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
House and Senate members from dairy states are seeking a temporary fix for the dairy safety net until the new dairy program that is included in both the Senate and House farm bill versions can become law. Both bills would end the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and replace it with a new insurance program for dairy farmers and would ideally have been in place by the time current farm programs expire on September 30. However, despite Senate passage of farm legislation, the House has yet to act on its version.
A letter to House and Senate leaders, signed by a total of 60 lawmakers of both houses, was initiated by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in the Senate, and by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) in the House. They urge that until a new Farm Bill has been enacted and USDA has a dairy program in place, offsets be found to maintain the MILC program at its previous coverage levels for the duration of any extension of current policy. The legislative vehicle for this remedy could be a short-term extension of the current farm bill, or a drought disaster relief bill, or other legislation.
Rep. Ribble notes that parts of the MILC program changed on September 1 and will result in coverage levels so low that the program is not expected to be triggered even in these times of high feed prices, leaving individual dairy farmers with no safety net. “With drought-related feeds costs soaring, this new gap in coverage threatens to leave dairy producers in the lurch until a new Farm Bill is enacted,” says a press release from Ribble’s office. “Even a straight extension of the current Farm Bill would still leave MILC program rates at the lower level. According to dairy economists, this decline in the MILC feed cost adjuster would prevent the program from providing any support to the nation’s dairy farmers, despite soaring feed costs caused by the nation’s crippling drought.”
Posted: September 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm
By News Editor
U.S. fluid milk sales have hit a 30 year low, with more than half of U.S. adults no longer consuming milk.
In 2011, total U.S. beverage milk sales were 53 billion pounds – about 6 billion gallons – the lowest level since 1984, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures released in August.
Whole milk beverage sales in 2011 were less than half their level from the early 1980s, according to the Agriculture Department.
“We have known there’s been a continuous decline in per-capita milk consumption for many years, going back even further than 1984,” said Vivien Godfrey, CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program known for the “Got Milk?” and milk mustache advertising campaigns.
Shifting consumer habits and a flood of new beverages in the marketplace, including sports drinks and bottled teas, have taken a toll on beverage milk sales, Godfrey said.
“If we have 55 million kids going to school each and every day, and we don’t present them with a product they like and comes in a handy container, then we have lost them for a lifetime,” said Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., a national organization that promotes dairy products and is funded by dairy farmers.
“If we don’t see fundamental changes in the milk business, and I don’t mean incremental changes, then milk is going to become an irrelevant beverage at some point,” he said.
The gallon milk jug was invented to feed a nation that, decades ago, was largely eating most meals at home as a family. But times have changed, and the dairy industry hasn’t always kept up with marketing trends aimed at more diverse, less predictable lifestyles.
The industry hasn’t done what successful brands should do to grow, according to Gallagher.
“The first thing we have to look at is ourselves rather than blame our competition,” he said. “People are still eating yogurts, cream cheeses and other products . . . but if you walk through the grocery store there’s shelf after shelf of our competition. And we should be there, too.”
Dean Foods and Tetra Pak have created worked together to create an aseptic package that allows milk to stay shelf stable without refrigeration. This new package has allowed the companies to donate 250,000 cartons of milk to the North Texas Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids program.
Every weekend, 11,000 children in North Texas go home with backpacks filled with lightweight food that doesn’t need refrigeration or heating. Cereal, nuts, dried fruit and juice are staples. And for the second year in a row, so is milk.
Employees at Dallas-based Dean Foods came up with the idea of donating to Food 4 Kids in September 2010. But the company’s local Oak Farms plant doesn’t make milk that can sit unrefrigerated on shelves. So Dean started working with Tetra Pak to produce milk in aseptic packaging.
Aseptic technology sterilizes food with “ultra-high” temperatures (between 279 and 284 degrees), said Carla Fantoni, vice president of communications for Tetra Pak. The food is then put in sterile containers and sealed to keep out air, light and contaminants.
Food 4 Kids targets elementary school children who are “chronically hungry,” said Elizabeth Liser, director of corporate engagement for the food bank. That means that at least once a week, the kids don’t know where their next meal will come from.
Liser said Food 4 Kids aims to not only feed children over the weekend but to feed them nutritiously. Milk, she said, is key to fulfilling that goal. The USDA recommends children get 2 ½ to 3 cups of the stuff daily to develop strong muscles, teeth and bones.
The difference the extra food makes for the children in the program is huge, Liser said.Food
Pure Michigan has released a new ad campaign focused on Michigan produced milk. The campaign is sponsored by Kroger.
The Cincinnati-based retailer, the state’s largest traditional grocer, approached Pure Michigan and paid $100,000 to produce the 30-second spot to promote its Kroger brand Michigan-produced milk and is covering the air time, said Michelle Begnoche, a Travel Michigan spokeswoman.
The commercial features two Michigan dairy farms — Lynn Island Farms in Lynn and Ri-Val-Re/Jorgenson Farms in Webberville — and was shot over two days in May.
Allen narrates the commercial as scenes from the farms play out behind the ad campaign’s signature serene music. The commercial ends with the phrase: “Pure Michigan milk is Kroger milk.”
Kroger knew from the start it wanted to promote milk, said Dale Hollandsworth, customer communications manager of Kroger’s Michigan division.
As the ad’s initial partner, Kroger’s logo is seen at the end of the TV spot — and will stay there until November. At that time, Begnoche said, other companies will have a chance to join with Pure Michigan and have their logos used as well.
In the blame game of early onset puberty in girls, many fingers have pointed to growth hormones in milk as the culprit. The myth really got going when recombinant bovine somatotropin was approved for commercial use in 1994.
Now, a study published in the Frontiers in Endocrinology may set the record straight. The guilty party? Childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity has already been connected to numerous healthy issues in youth, including glucose intolerance, hypertension and high cholesterol. These metabolic conditions could impact the reproductive system, as well.
“The issue of so many humans being obese is very recent in evolutionary terms, and since nutritional status is important to reproduction, metabolic syndromes caused by obesity may profoundly affect reproductive capacity,” Patrick Chappell, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Oregon State University and an author of the recent report, says in a news release.
Read entire Dairy Herd Management article here.
Cornell University food scientists have found the elements in milk that cause it to curdling. The discovery could help to extend the shelf-life of dairy foods.
The researchers found that one single strain in particular, called Paenibacillus, can cause curdling in dairy products and affect flavors in a variety of foods.
These results are already being used in the dairy sector – Upstate Niagara, a cooperative of more than 360 dairy farm families in New York, has enlisted the help of the university to improve the quality of their milk by evaluating the milk samples.
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Should raw milk be allowed for sale?” The question was prompted by one of the panelists at the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. She is a reporter with a food safety publication who says that this issue is the one that gets the most comments and response of any other. This question generated the most comments of any ZimmPoll to date so I understand what she was saying. Actually, most comments wanted a 4th response option to allow the sale of raw milk but with sufficient regulation and testing to ensure it is safe. I saw the comments too late to make that change so I don’t know if these results would have been different. So the answer, Absolutely with no regulation received 66%; On a very limited and regulated basis received 20% and Definitely not, too many health concerns received 14%. Surprised? I’m thinking that we not only have a lot of raw milk lovers in the ZimmComm News Network community but they are very active at getting others to vote! This poll also had one of the highest number of responses we’ve had so far. Why do you think that is?
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “When was the last time you talked to a journalist about agriculture?” The question is inspired by last night’s AgChat Twitter conversation and a question that had been submitted by @BASFAgro! We’re supposed to stand up for our industry and livelihoods that are threatened by lots of misinformation that gets spread by the media. What are we doing about it? How are we speaking out? Are we willing to develop a relationship with the reporters at our local mainstream media outlets (newspaper/radio/tv/web)? More questions I know but there is a lot we can all do to help educate the ultimate consumers of the products we produce. Keep it up. It does make a difference!
Let your friends and neighbors know they can participate by sharing this link.
ZimmPoll is sponsored by Rhea+Kaiser, a full-service advertising/public relations agency.
Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:39 am
By Cindy Zimmerman
Dr. Dave Kohl is a well-known agricultural economist from Virginia Tech who gives talks around the country and the world about agriculture and global macroeconomics.
Besides being an agricultural economist, Dr. Kohl is also a value-added dairy producer with two operations, including Homestead Creamery located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “We put in a processing plant about 11 years ago and we bottle milk in the old-fashioned glass bottle,” he said. “We’re selling about 50,000 gallons of milk a month to Kroger stores, Whole Food and also Earth Fare. We’re not organic, we’re local and natural.”
Kohl says they also sell 41 flavors of premium ice cream, as well as eggnog and custard. “We also launched home delivery about five years ago, we have 1250 customers,” he said. “Who’s our customer? Females with children and affordable homes.”
I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Kohl at an FS Green Plan Solutions Pursuit of Maximum Yields event in Collinsville, Illinois last week. During his talk, Kohl discussed the importance of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to U.S. agriculture. “You have an agriculture economy that is doing extremely well because they’re connected with the BRICS nations that are demanding food, fiber and fuel,” he said. “It’s important to keep an eye on those BRICS nations more than just the U.S. economy in developing your agricultural plans.” He also talked about “black swans,” mega trends, top challenges, and the connectivity of agriculture.
My favorite quote from his talk is “The best crop you can raise is your children.”
Posted: February 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm
By News Editor
DeLaval AMR™, the world’s first automatic milking rotary system, was chosen as a Top-10 New Product at World Ag Expo 2012.
This revolutionary solution for high-capacity automatic milking was chosen by a group of judges made up of farmers, ranchers and industry professionals.
Since its introduction in September 2010, DeLaval AMR has won multiple industry awards including the Gold Medal for innovation at Euro Tier 2010 in Germany, and the Golden Hoof at the Agribex 2011 exhibition in Belgium.
“We are very honored by the industry’s recognition of DeLaval AMR. This new technology is designed to accelerate the dairy farmer’s transition from milking management to total farm management. It can help dairy farmers grow profitably by working smarter to drive greater efficiency, productivity and business sustainability,” says Jonas Hällman, Director Automatic Milking Systems VMS and AMR, based in Tumba, Sweden.
Posted: January 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm
By News Editor
New Jersey is once again debating the sale of raw milk in the state.
Assembly Bill 743, has been resurrected under the new number A518 and introduced into the new Assembly session. The measure is missing one sponsor, Rep. Charlotte Vandervalk, a 39th District Republican, who retired from the Assembly after 20 years.
Sponsors want to make populous New Jersey the 31st state to allow commercial raw milk sales. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) says 30 states currently allow raw milk sales, although in 13 of those states unpasteurized milk is restricted to on-farm sales.
In the last three years, there have been numerous proposals in state legislative bodies both to ease raw-milk restrictions and to tighten raw-milk regulations. During that time period, NASDA reports five states have increased quality standards for unpasteurized dairy products.
Because of New Jersey’s sheer size, however, there is considerable interest in what steps it may take. It also borders Pennsylvania and New York, where raw milk sales are legal. Not only do New Jersey residents already drive to those neighboring states to pick up raw milk, but there are also some sophisticated delivery routes in place.
In the new Assembly, sponsors are picking up on new “value-added” theme, namely that the Garden State’s remaining 87 dairy farms need a value-added product to survive.
Posted: December 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm
By News Editor
USDA reports milk production in top 23 states during November was 14.736 billion pounds, up 2.2% on the year. All 50 states produced 15.775 billion pounds, up 1.8% from a year ago.
The CME’s Daily Dairy Report attributes the increases to good weather but does note concerns about feed quality. October was revised to 15.2 billion pounds, up 1 million from the first guess and 2.5% more than October 2010. Production per cow averaged 1,738 pounds, 16 pounds more than November 2010.
The number of milk cows in the 23 top producing states was 8.48 million head, unchanged on the month and up 108,000 on the year. The U.S. total was 9.216 million head, down on the year and the first decline since the last CWT cull in August 2010.
California was the top producer at 3.343 billion pounds, 2.4% ahead of a year ago, followed by Wisconsin at 2.094 billion pounds, up 1.6%, and Idaho at 1.065 billion pounds, an increase of 1.7%.
Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia all posted year to year declines.
Posted: December 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
South Dakota’s milk quality has room for improvement, according to South Dakota State University extension dairy specialist Alvaro Garcia.
“A quick look at milk quality changes between 2006 and 2010 comparing South Dakota with two of our neighboring states shows there’s still room for improvement in the area,” Garcia said.
Since 2006, somatic cell counts have been decreasing at a similar rate for Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, from approximately 300,000 in 2006 to 250,000 in 2010. The national average, based on the Dairy Herd Improvement Association in herds is around 300,000 cells. In South Dakota the number of tests above 400,000 has dropped over the years. He adds that back in 2006, South Dakota had 77.9 percent of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association test days above 400,000 somatic cell counts. By 2010, this figure had drop to 54.1 percent.
“Although highly encouraging this still means that over half of the test days of dairies in the state do not comply with the maximum somatic cell count limit accepted by the European Union,” he said.
The Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA had a meeting earlier this month to discuss with industry stakeholders its proposed European Union certification program to meet the milk quality requirements imposed to shipments of dairy products imported by the 27-member countries of the EU. This program, which will officially begin on Jan. 1, 2012, is aimed at demonstrating the measures producers will have to take to be within the somatic cell and standard plate counts limits for raw milk set up by the EU.
Read more from SDSU.
Posted: November 7, 2011 at 10:15 am
By News Editor
Thank you Dominic Daoust, for advocating to keep chocolate milk in your school! This is a great story of one student’s journey to keep low-fat chocolate milk as an offering in his lunchroom.
Daoust, a senior at Niagara Falls High School in New York, told the School Board last month that the vitamins and nutrients in chocolate milk match those in reduced-fat white milk and the flavoring in chocolate milk is insufficient to cause any significant increase in obesity.
He cited research suggesting that chocolate milk has little or no adverse effect on health.
“A container of chocolate milk that a student drinks is more nutritious than a container of reduced- fat white milk that the student throws away,” Daoust told the board.
He gave the board a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures asking for a return of chocolate milk to school cafeterias.
After a few days to digest the student’s presentation, School Superintendent Cynthia A. Bianco decided this week to bring back chocolate milk.
About 20 students in the audience at the board meeting on Oct. 20 applauded vigorously when Daoust finished his presentation and handed the petition to members of the board.
“The removal of chocolate milk was due to an abundance of caution in safeguarding students’ health and an effort to provide only the healthiest choices of meals in the schools,” Bianco wrote. “However, Mr. Daoust, you have convinced me. I am satisfied that chocolate milk will not be the downfall of public health.”
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